The Australian federal election will be held in September – and the announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard of such a long election campaign raised more than a few eyebrows in political circles. But perhaps none more so than the staffers dedicated to manning the campaign.
In order to counter the long hours and sleepless nights, a so-called “fatigue management” rules list was drafted up by the Department of Finance for ministerial advisers and other staff working for federal politicians. So what’s the official strategy? Why catch some zzz’s on the boardroom table of course.
Draft guidelines circulated to MPs and senators have warned them of their legal duty to ensure staff do not get too tired, and that the relentless 24-hour news cycle were not an excuse for allowing workers to become fatigued and inevitably, ‘burn out’. “During busy periods which may involve long hours, allow for and encourage 'power naps' in unused rooms within the office,” the guidelines reportedly state. “Ensure employees take sufficient annual leave each year to recharge (and) ensure employees take adequate and regular meal and rest breaks,” it says.
The rules also remind politicians to ensure workloads are shared so as to not place excessive demands on any one employee.
Former PM Kevin Rudd became infamous for demanding long hours from his staff, and in 2010 even quipped that “dog year” working in politics was equitable to seven years of work in an average workplace.